Not my idea

She says:

I can’t take credit for the idea. Through a series of events my family; mum, dad, brother and me, moved onto a narrowboat to live in December 1981. It wasn’t cool/fashionable, it wasn’t even legally allowed, but we did it, when not many others were doing it. There’s another story here around the boat build, the builder, my parents and the money stashed between the air bricks, but one I cannot do justice without many more conversations and time than I have at present.

I lived with my family on that boat until I was old enough to leave home, which of course, I eventually did. Moving in with my boyfriend to the confines of bricks and mortar, all took some adjustment and not one I’ve ever fully made. Wherever I find myself, I am eventually surrounded by things. I’m comfortable in small spaces and most relaxed around water. Over my adulthood, I’ve had a brief foray with boats, but nothing that ever filled the void.

My parents only left the boat as my dad’s illness took hold, which led to his eventual demise. My mum is able to live by the river and still mix with the local boaters and have the surroundings she’s had for so many years. I am thankful for that.

Fast forward through a handful of years, I have 2 children, an ex-husband and a fiancé. One day, looking from the window of my mums place, I jokingly suggested we moved onto a wide beam boat. “Are you serious?” he said. I laughed, “yes, no, maybe”. Weeks passed and I gave the idea much thought, before raising the subject again. “you know what I said the other week…? I am serious”.

And so the seed was sown.

I am a day dreamer. I am creative and willing to work hard. He is the planner. He is the doer of things.

We have a lot of work to do – the house isn’t quite ready for sale, but it will be with a few weeks work.

The New Year awaits us and many changes lay ahead. Our lives are about to change in many ways and we are all more than ready for it.


Deciding on the build (and the plan)…

He says:

Since my trip to Liverpool we have been even more engaged by this project than we were before. And that’s saying something!

But the question of the build-type has been a big issue.

This project has a number of different outcomes that we want to achieve:

  1. Liveaboard widebeam
  2. Built to our somewhat unusual spec
  3. Funded by the proceeds of our house sale, and yet
  4. Leave as much of our house-sale capital as possible in the bank, plus having a
  5. Permanent mooring, which we plan on leaving for occasional/regular (exact frequency to be decided) excursions, which is
  6. Close enough to where we currently live, so as not to disrupt school run, etc, and last of all it must be a
  7. Quiet, rural base

The first point is straightforward. We have decided on a 70×12 as the most viable-sized boat for our needs.

The second point has been a bit of a stumbling block. Our requirement is for a three-bedroomed boat. Most boat-builders seem to build to a fairly rigid template, and the minute you veer off that template the costs of the boat start going bonkers.

The third point is relatively simple, and easily achievable.

But the fourth point is directly tied to points two and three. The more we stray from builders templates, the higher the costs of the boat. And that means there will inevitably be less money left in the bank at the end of the project.

The fifth point… well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but we do think we have found what we’re looking for.

The sixth point is achievable. As is point seven.

After talking to three prominent boatbuilders, it looks like the best way to ensure points 2. 3. and 4. are achieved is to do the fit-out ourselves.

So we’re shopping for a boatbuilder who can produce a 70×12 widebeam, with our engine, electrics (etc, etc) spec, and with the kind of, type of, and placement of bulkhead partitions that we’re looking for.

So that’s the plan, and that’s the build plan.

Now then.

Who do we go to for the build?

A cunning plan?

He says:

The unsurprising thing is how easy it was for me to agree to this (some might say but I would disagree with them: bonkers) idea.

Alright. Certain facts.

Yes, she did spend about a decade and a half growing up on a narrowboat, and therefore she will have a degree of comfort around the idea of moving back aboard.

But the 70’x12′ widebeam lifestyle that we’re looking at is nothing like a traditional narrowboat. It’s bigger and considerably better. We can talk about the features and facilities of the widebeam at another time.

And yes, it has taken us years (oh yes, years!) to get the house very close to the final status of ‘completed’. But why would we want to hang around here when the house project is finished?

Why wouldn’t we want to take the capital we’ve made on the house, and move our lives in a different direction?

Why wouldn’t we want to grasp an opportunity to do something different?

Well we’ve talked about it, and decided that we would want to.

And so it was, a couple of weeks ago, I drove up to Liverpool and spoke with various boatbuilders.

Before I went up we (the family) had agreed a draft layout for the boat.

We had agreed the kind of interior build spec we were looking for.

We had also agreed the boat-build spec.

And we had agreed our target budget (which was governed by another target, to retain as much capital as possible on completion of the project).

Our design requirements are different to the norm (I don’t actually know what the norm is, I just know that nobody seems to build to the layout that we want!).

The trouble with being different to the norm is that when you talk to boatbuilders, the minute you deviate from the templates that they design and build to, things start to get expensive.

So I went to Liverpool with two options:

  • A fully-fitted widebeam designed and built to our spec/layout, or
  • A lined sailaway widebeam with the basic spec/layout to our requirements, and we fit-out the interior ourselves (or with the assistance of specialists as/when required)

Now I am a planner.

I love a Gannt chart. I enjoy getting into what needs to be done, when does it need to be done, who needs to do it, what the pre-requisites are before it can be done, and all that.

So I have been absorbed by planning for either the fully-fitted or the sailaway lined option with, as I’ve said, leaving the maximum amount of capital in the bank when we’ve finished the project.

And now, after that long trip to Liverpool, I think we have a plan.

A cunning plan.

Home sweet home

She says:

Let’s face it, unlike Paul Young, we don’t all have a hat to lay and call that spot our home. Most of us work/strive towards home ownership.

I’ve begun to ask why.

We have kids. When we inevitably peg it, whatever we own will be split between them. So unless they have some bizarre misfortune that means our girls are spinsters living together, if we own a house it will be sold and the profits split.

I get that it’s an investment, but does it really matter that much if we own that house, or have a lesser fortune to leave our offspring?

Are we stuck in a rut of simply showing our kids how to go to work, have a holiday abroad each year if they’re lucky, buy a house and find love (not necessarily in that order)?

Are we teaching them how to have fun? How to not worry? How to relax? How to party? How to throw caution to the wind and to let go? How to live?

I fear for our mundane lives (my family’s). We’ve been sucked in to suburbia. We work all hours. We are too knackered to have fun. We save all year for that 1 holiday and a few mini breaks. We fear for our jobs as Brexit fucks us over. If I lose my job we could lose the house. If he loses his job we could lose the house. Do I go back to hellish commutes in order to just survive?

Or do we say ‘fuck it’?

Do we sell up, follow a simple, life affecting (life changing sounds too dramatic), dream and live mortgage free….